Alicia Molik honoured with Spirit of Tennis Award
A top-10 career in both singles and doubles was followed by a brilliant decade-long stint as captain of Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup team.
Alicia Molik has been honoured with the Spirit of Tennis Award at Monday night’s Australian Tennis Awards.
Molik was presented by Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka for her incredible contribution to the sport, following a decade serving as captain of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team.
“It’s humbling. I’m flattered. To a degree it’s also embarrassing because I feel so many people do so much more than me in the sport of tennis. It’s a real privilege and a real honour to receive this award,” Molik said during her acceptance speech at Melbourne’s Palladium at Crown.
“Having dedicated a lot of the last 10 years in women’s tennis, I’ve noticed a huge amount of change and progression getting closer to equality. I’m really proud of that progression that we’ve made and we’re making in women’s tennis. Still greater strides to be made in the future with this team sitting before me and with Sam (Stosur) leading the charge – I’m rapt she’ll be in the position to help these young strong women and what they want to achieve in the sport of tennis.
“I’m really proud of what career pathways our sport of tennis provides. I’m really proud of the inclusivity. I’m really proud of the fact that it’s a space that everyone can feel welcome and included when they walk down to their local tennis club.
“I still spend, I have to say, five days a week at my local tennis club in Perth, Cottesloe Tennis Club. If it’s not the kids, it’s us as adults having a hit, or still playing pennants, believe it or not.
“I think it’s a pretty darn amazing community that we have. It’s quite incredible the people you meet, they’re remarkable individuals that keep this sport ticking. Well done to each and every one of you who still considers tennis to be a place of home.
“Congratulations to everyone here in the room – I know some of you have won pretty special awards, but huge thanks to every one of you here tonight and your contribution to this wonderful sport of tennis.
“I love it. I love it.”
Molik was an inspirational and popular leader of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team since taking over the role in 2013, guiding the green-and-gold to two finals in 2019 and 2022.
Doubles world No.1 Storm Hunter, a pivotal member of the team, spoke about Alicia’s incredible contribution in a special tribute played on
“Win or lose, if you give it your best effort, she’s just super proud of you and she just makes you feel like it’s a family and that, no matter what, she’s gonna be there for you,” Hunter reflected.
Sam Stosur, who played on the Australian team throughout the entirety of Molik’s captaincy, will take over the role from her countrywoman.
She was glowing in her praise for Molik, who was also her Billie Jean King Cup teammate and one-time coach.
“Alicia’s done an amazing job in this role, with her leadership with the players. Everyone always wants to be part of the team; there’s a great team culture,” Stosur said.
“I think the camaraderie between the players and everything that she’s helped create over a really long time is vitally important to try and keep.
“I’d love to just try and keep the foundations that she’s been able to build… I think the one thing everyone could speak about being on court under her, was you knew she fully believed in you on the court.
“As a player I always felt that and knew that was important.”
Molik’s tennis journey continues as she takes on a new challenge as Tournament Director for the Adelaide International.
It’s a return to her home town for the new assignment, having taken up the sport in the South Australian capital.
These were the first steps in a career that would see her ascend into the world’s top 10 in both singles and doubles.
When the competition was then known as Fed Cup, she began her representative career in 1999, and would go on to play 22 ties for the green-and-gold.
She also represented Australia at three Olympic Games, winning a singles bronze medal at the Athens 2004 Games – something she names as a highlight of her career.
Her run in Athens was part of a six-month purple patch, a career-zenith that saw her defeat reigning Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova to win the Tier I title in Zurich late in 2014.
Ending that season at world No.13, she kicked on in 2005, winning the Sydney International and then progressing to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open – as winning the doubles title that year at Melbourne Park with Svetlana Kuznetsova.
She went on to peak at world No.8 in February 2005, and a few months later world No.6 in doubles.
While her ascent was cruelly cut short by a debilitating inner-ear virus, she rebounded to win the doubles title at Roland Garros in 2007, the same season she returned to the world’s top 60 in singles.
After concluding her playing career at Australian Open 2011, Molik was appointed Australia’s Fed Cup captain in early 2013 – a team she would ultimately lead to finals in 2019 and 2022.
“I’ve certainly seen and experienced everything. So on a personal note, incredibly fulfilled,” Molik said earlier in the evening, as the outgoing captain.
“I’ve given everything that I possibly could have given to the team, but I think first and foremost I feel like my job was to always approach it and give our women, and young girls and teenagers, a can-do attitude that they can really believe in themselves, their careers. They can continue to move forward and they’ve got the backing of the team around them.
“Because often, confidence is a difficult one for young females starting out on tour, so I think when women especially feel kike they’re incredibly supported, encouraged, they grow a new sense of confidence.
“So that’s been my job; I’ve enjoyed that. Believe me, there’s some tough times too, the tears of selection, probably the nights I don’t enjoy so much.
“But on the whole, I feel really grateful that I’ve been able to hold the position for this period of time, and it’s just been a really big pleasure to watch the team perform this well.”